The Abode Of Bliss
"The Abode of Bliss: Ten Stories for Adam" is written from the perspective of Ziya, a Turkish writer, for Adam, his American lover. The novel takes the form of ten stories that chronicle Ziya’s literal and figurative journey from a small town boy from Bodrum, Turkey to an educated scholar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He begins his journey in ignorance of his impulses as a gay man to find real love during his sophomore year at Harvard.
Ziya Sinan is bilingual in both Turkish and in English. Having grown up in Bodrum with a mother who also studied at Harvard, he has perfect grasp of grammar and vocabulary. His culture shock is heightened by his lack of perception regarding the human race, be its members Turkish, Italian, or American.
Ziya understands his urges as a man, but doesn’t find the right words to define him in any language until he has had several sexual encounters. How duplicitous of Jeffers to force Ziya to learn the negative words for homosexual (Ibne, pervert, etc.) before Ziya can learn a neutral word that doesn’t exist in Turkish: Gay. He navigates his languages better than he navigates through human experience.
Ziya isn’t solely a novice at sex; he is a novice at life and experience. His erotic education takes a front seat to understanding the human condition. Rather, his erotic education comes at the expense of making lasting relationships and developing a community.
"The Abode of Bliss" is written like poetry, a trip for the senses for one to enjoy from a distance. Jeffer’s style keeps the reader at arm’s length, causing one to analyze critically rather than to be enveloped by Ziya on his journey. Alternatively, Jeffer’s paints his environments with sensuality and care. He balances vacation epithets with the realities of poverty and war.
Jeffers’ Turkey evokes all the charm and nostalgia of home, but the realities of a dysfunctional one. We are invited to step into Ziya’s world, but not to engage with him. By alienating his audience, Jeffer’s reveals the true nature of his novel. There were sections that were difficult to read, some due to the bare writing and some due to Ziya’s subtlety imposed loneliness.
Our author expects his audience to submit itself to his writing, to devote time and effort into reading his novel. If you have the time then it is well worth the read.
by Alex Jeffers
Publisher: Lethe Press. Publication Date: August 1, 2011. Pages: 282. Price: $18. ISBN-13: 978-1-590-212-462